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How Would You Like To Take Your Company From $16 Million To Over A $1.3 Billion In Sales In Five Years Then Have It Acquired For A Staggering $22 Billion?

That is exactly what Rob Ryan did with Ascend Communications using the Sunflower Model® he created. The Sunflower Model has since been used by other struggling companies to help advance three into multibillion dollar, and dozens into multimillion dollar, valuations.

Co-Founded by Rob Ryan, the Sunflower Academy is a non-traditional mentorship community built around the Sunflower Model which Rob created. With the goal of advancing the understanding of and the concepts behind the Sunflower Model, the Sunflower Academy is developing a program offering individualized guidance supplemented with Immersive Mentorship from a Community of Sunflower Model Experts, Sunflower Academy Alumni and fellow Entrepreneurs, as well as Leaders representing a broad cross segment of the Industry and renowned Academic Institutions. Participation in the Sunflower Academy can help companies realize their fullest market potential.

And the Sunflower Academy is FREE (no equity or fee required to participate).

What is the Sunflower Model?

Like the Sunflower plant (genus Helianthus), the Sunflower Model has three main components:

  • Core: The center of the flower which feeds growth and sustainability.
    What are the Core Competencies of the Team? What does the Team do better than anyone else? How does the current business model align with those Core Competencies?
    Core Competency is the center of the Sunflower and the underlying principle of the business model.

  • Petals: The colorful flora which emanates from the center of the flower.
    How do the Products align with the Core Competencies of the team? How do the Products fit within the needs of the Market? What other Markets could the Core Competencies address?
    Products and Markets are the Petals of the Sunflower absorbing the sunlight and moisture that help nourish the growth.

  • Stem: The infrastructure which supports and also provides nourishment to the flower.
    Are there any underlying assumptions? What value proposition does the Products offer? What will drive people to buy and continue to use the Products?
    Value Proposition is the Stem that supports the entire Sunflower plant lifting the Seeds and Petals up towards the sun and rain.

The Sunflower Model advances critical thinking for strategic business decisions based on the following elements:

Team Development / Core Competency

Products / Markets

Underlying Assumptions

The Sunflower Academy Community

The Sunflower Academy Community provides a way for people to learn more about the Sunflower Model and gain access to the resources available through the Sunflower Academy. As a part of the community, people can connect with Sunflower Academy staff, others who have used the Sunflower Model in their businesses, fellow entrepreneurs discovering the Sunflower Model and Mentors willing to share their expertise in the Sunflower Model and other aspects of business. Ask questions, join discussions, connect with industry leaders and access a wealth of continuously growing resources for entrepreneurs. The Sunflower Academy Community forum provides exclusive access to a network of expertise and resources intended to help entrepreneurs accelerate and manage the growth of their businesses to the fullest potential.

The Sunflower Academy Cohort

The Sunflower Academy is a non-traditional Mentorship community which helps participants walk through the steps necessary to apply the Sunflower Model to their business. It combines online coursework with interactive discussions, individually and as a group, along with homework which is supplemented by Immersive Mentorship from a Community of Sunflower Model Experts, Sunflower Academy Alumni and fellow Entrepreneurs, as well as Leaders representing a broad cross segment of the Industry and renowned Academic Institutions.

At the onset of the Sunflower Academy, participants will take part in a series of discovery sessions towards identifying the Core Competencies of the Team.  Too many companies focus on perceived capabilities rather than actual competency which only increases the likelihood of their failure.  Businesses thrive when they concentrate on their Team’s Core Competency.  Identifying Core Competency and building products around it is a vital key to success.

Once the Core Competency has been identified, the Products or Services are thoroughly reviewed to determine how they align with the overall Core Competency and where they fit in their prospective Markets.  This review will involve both customer and market research, and may include recommendations for adding, changing or even deleting Products or Markets based on the results.

At this point, a thorough analysis of the Value Proposition and Market Strategy is performed:

  • Defining and validating the Market Need for the Products

  • Understanding the Value Proposition and motivating factors that drive the customers

  • Proper Market positioning of the Products

Throughout the process, participants will have access to an Immersive Mentorship program both through direct introductions and the Community Forums where they can receive guidance from Industry Leaders. With additional access levels to the Community Forum, participants can interact with the Sunflower Academy Alumni network of Entrepreneurs, as well as Industry Leaders, Investors and Educators from major acclaimed Business Schools and Institutions, to cultivate and support connections that help foster success.

The Sunflower Academy Online

Sunflower Academy (Online) is an abbreviated, self-paced, version of the Sunflower Academy Cohort process. It is intended to provide an introduction to the Sunflower Model through some simple exercises, the point of which are to provide familiarity with the Sunflower Model and a basic understanding of the concepts behind the decision-making process. Using even the most basic application of the Sunflower Model, companies should be able to better evaluate their strengths and weaknesses then make the necessary adjustments to improve their prospects for success.

About Us

Rob Ryan, Co-Founder

An Entrepreneurial Strategy Expert, Rob is the Founder and former CEO / Chairman of Ascend Communications. Rob earned national attention when he grew Ascend from $16 Million to more than $1.3 Billion in annual sales in just five years. A few years later, in 1999, Lucent Technologies acquired Ascend for approximately $22 Billion in what was termed at the time the “largest technology merger ever.”

While at Ascend, Rob developed the Sunflower Model, a complete decision making process for innovation. For over 20 years, Rob has shared the Sunflower Model through his Entrepreneur America Bootcamp, a program designed to help entrepreneurs understand their company and core competencies better. He is credited with helping several companies achieve multimillion and even a few multibillion dollar evaluations.

Jay Williams, Co-Founder

Jay Williams has been a Chief Technology Officer and Consultant to many of the Fortune 500 companies. As a Consultant, he developed a highly refined process for managing a company’s technology infrastructure, including applications, security and network assets. Jay is a highly sought-after Enterprise Systems Architect and problem-solver. He has advised a number of high profile technology companies on their products and is known for a rare combination of deep technology expertise, expert problem solving ability, and business acumen. Jay is widely respected by peers and has influenced many pivotal technology consortia and industry steering groups. He regularly consults with senior technology and business executives and is frequently consulted by Venture Capital investors for analyses of new technology strategies.